Matthews' good rush may not arrive fast

August 27, 1994|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Sun Staff Writer

HAMILTON, Ontario -- Sooner or later, Don Matthews figures he is going to get a legitimate pass rush from the Baltimore CFLs' defensive line.

Sooner could come tonight, when rush end Elfrid Payton makes his Baltimore debut against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and quarterback Timm Rosenbach.

Later could be next week when final NFL cuts are made.

"We're not getting enough pressure," Matthews said again this week. "It's obvious what's happening. Our defensive backs are covering well; we've got to get more pressure."

The unsightly fact is the CFLs rank 11th in pass defense (up from 12th a week ago) and 11th in total defense in the league. They also rank 10th in sacks with 13. Not acceptable, Matthews said.

The addition of Payton, cut by the Shreveport Pirates two weeks ago, gives Baltimore the best-looking defensive line this side of the NFL. It has Jearld Baylis, the CFL's Most Outstanding Defensive Player of 1993, at tackle. Payton was the runner-up to Baylis and sack leader of a year ago. O. J. Brigance finished second in sacks a year ago. Tackle Robert Presbury is the CFL's second-leading sacker this season with six.

Payton knows what comes next: big expectations.

"I'm the guy coming in here who's supposed to be the savior and get the sacks," he said. "It's a little added pressure."

Payton takes over at the rush end spot previously held by Brigance. He plays the strong, or wide, side of the field. Brigance moves to what Matthews calls the "Q" position, on the short side.

"I think it's a positive move for myself and more so for the team," Brigance said. "Whatever they feel needs to be done is fine with me. I have no problem moving.

"Elfrid's a bigger body on the edge. He gives us another experienced pass rusher. What we haven't had is a push from both sides. The guys who have played there have done their best, but it takes time to learn. I'm still learning."

Brigance said: "I haven't been consistent this year. I am disappointed I haven't been."

Matthews is still searching for more complementary help up front. The team signed two more players this week -- rush end Mike Kerr, cut by the New England Patriots, and defensive tackle Tommy Fagan, dropped by the Miami Dolphins. They join Malcolm Showell, cut by the Green Bay Packers, on the practice roster.

"If the heat comes from the players we have, these guys will stay on the practice roster," Matthews said.

NOTES: Punt returner Stan Petry has returned to Baltimore's active roster, and defensive back Lester Smith has moved to the practice squad. . . . Baltimore slotback Chris Armstrong's eight touchdowns receiving lead the league. . . . Hamilton coach Don Sutherin named Rosenbach his starter ahead of Todd Dillon.

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